Naked Punch Collective stands in solidarity with the Support Art Workers movement that started in the first weekend of May 2020 in Athens, Greece. Below, we present the statement drafted by the movement and specifically its Assembly Group for ORGANISATION – COORDINATION – INITIATIVE.
Following the humbling widespread dispersal of our message #SupportArtWorkers to almost every corner of the internet, we firstly wish to exclaim our disdain against the marginalization of people who work in and for Arts and Culture, and against the absence of a pandemic relief government plan for the thousands of people who participate in, and offer to this domain; with this said, we at once move onto announcing our demands.
Having recorded all the demands and concerns expressed through the “Art Workers Initiative”, and after legal processing, the information that had been collected was organized. During this process, it was observed that the demands could be separated into two main categories.
Firstly, demands that need to be managed immediately and without any further postponement, the very reason being the absolute absence of a governmental plan. In other words, demands which we deem urgent, for if a solution is not found at this moment, then in the long term, the Arts and people working for the Arts will suffer irreparable damage.
Secondly, demands concerning the radical reformation of Cultural workers’ rights, as workers in these fields have for decades been enduring the results of a flawed system.
Given the manner in which this Initiative – which is not connected to any institution or organization – functions, for the time being, it has been decided to focus only on the DEMANDS THAT NEED TO BE TACKLED IMMEDIATELY in order to manage this crisis. For this crisis, besides wounding the majority of labor sectors, is expected to severely injure people in the Arts communities for at least a six-month period.
The reason this announcement concentrates on IMMEDIATE demands is to raise awareness and understanding of what it is we are fighting for and leave the second degree of demands for another time, as and when this Initiative acquires greater momentum.
The following demands have been sent to all existing Unions in all Arts fields for possible revisions pertaining to each different branch.
This is because it can be observed that the 19,000 members of this initiative come from a number of different sections of the Arts Community, and therefore it is important to avoid the possibility of having incomplete efforts to organize the wide-ranging needs of these professions.
Given that the total body of workers in our country will be affected by the Pandemic we also assume, as a base for claiming our rights, the duty of advocating for the rights of workers in every sector whilst taking into consideration the systematic, often disorderly workings of the Cultural sphere.
In closing, this Initiative is the result of a spontaneous agglomeration that is independent from Party-based Politics. It is a reaction to the depreciation of Culture. The following statements solely reflect the requests and concerns gathered from this online portal “Support Art Workers: Art Workers Initiative”. Under no circumstances is the purpose of this Initiative to replace the pre-existing Unions that are in dialogue with the benefactors.
DIRECT ACTION FOR THE FORTHCOMING CRISIS
Judging from international practices (see Korean Protocol), even if spaces hosting cultural events were to open, social distancing and health measures concerning the spread of the virus, there will be a great effect on the overall sphere of artistic production for an indeterminate amount of time. Judging from international news it is assumed this will last until Christmas. The moment of return to pre-pandemic normalcy is understood as the very moment social distancing measures are lifted entirely; when Cultural venues are to function without taking into account any restrictive measures. Considering the fact that the Ministry of Culture is already planning to organize some cultural events which are due to take place through the summer season, we have grouped employees and workers in the Art world into the following three categories:
• Workers as part of productions scheduled to take place.
• Workers as part of productions that have been cancelled/postponed and/or due to the curren context will not materialize for a number of reasons including, but not limited to, the number of participants, the economic risk factor, the preventiveness of artistic expression as a result of existing measures, etc.
• Unemployed workers due to the current aforementioned context.
Similar are the measures we propose:
LONG-LASTING SUPPORT FOR WORKERS IN THE ARTS
— From May 1st until the removal of all social distancing measures, i.e. until such time as Cultural spaces hosting the Arts will be able to function without protocol.
A. SUPPORT SALARIED WORKERS
1) PAY PACKAGES FOR ART WORKERS
ON THE 800 EURO BUDGET FOR 45 DAYS
• IN OTHER WORDS, a monthly 533 euro stipend.
UNDER THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA:
• 2 productions in the last 3 years CONCERNING WORK THAT IS DIRECTLY RELATED TO ARTISTIC PROFESSIONS, from 2018-2020.
• 15 work stamps in an artistic field per year* / property titles are also acceptable for whomever does not retain a yearly income over 10,000 euros but has analogous documents.
*Note: The initial aforementioned eligibility criteria, for the most part, concerns the fields of Dance and Theatre and are related to the Ministry of Culture, whereas the second criteria concerns the minimum amount of performances needed for the approval of the stipend.
• Either graduates of recognized Arts schools in Greece and abroad, and/or members of their respective Unions.
*Note: Given the intricacies of the workings in the fields of Culture and the Arts, whomever is unable to prove the 15 work stamps and at the same time DOES NOT have another principal source of income, i.e. in another working field, and can be proved by ERGANI, meaning they depend exclusively on their artistic practice and can prove their practice through their Arts field’s programs, being part of their field's Union etc., will be eligible, and in this case the criteria is three productions within the last three years.
Particularly concerning 2020, the announcement of inclusion in an artistic production (through press releases, online posts, email exchanges etc.) is enough given the fact that
many work contracts were either not composed and/or signed (i.e. for productions following March 12th, 2020), or were on standby for signatures upon the completion of the traditional performance season which in Greece is on a percentage basis, and is on Palm Sunday.
MANNER OF CERTIFICATION: Companies that were due to execute productions can give an official verification of the workers that have not been mentioned i.e. technicians, construction companies, rentals, etc.
Producers can also give an official verification for the productions being organized with a detailed cataloguing including participants in all posts and all the companies they were to collaborate with. (All this, in accordance to the standards of registration for members in local Bar Associations.)
— This includes TECHNICIANS and IS IN SUPPORT OF TECHNICAL WORK (front of house, cashiers, production teams, production organizers, etc.) and whomever has been working with a total of 150 work stamps in the last three years.
2) UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
— Reconsideration of the total number of required work stamps for unemployment benefits concerning the uncertainty of the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, and given that work lasted for only 2.5 months of the year 2020.
— Unemployment Benefits already received are suspended and are not counterbalanced with the Artist stipend.
— The support stipend does not annul the right to apply for Seasonal Benefits and it is not counterbalanced with this on the account that the measures increase during the period in which the seasonal allowance is to be granted.
— The Seasonal Stipend is to be granted to the Art Workers without minimum work stamps, however the maximum amount of work stamps is to be maintained.
3) SPECIFIC CONDITIONS
• That the conditions for receiving support for PNPs be removed, i.e. the clause arguing that whomever received any kind of stipend from ΟΑΕΔ - a.k.a. Hellenic Manpower Employment Organization - throughout the first quarter of 2020 (01/01/2020- 30/04/2020) is automatically excluded from the 800 euro stipend.
• Put an end to the clause stating that the 800 euro stipend is granted only to artists who received the seasonal Arts unemployment stipend in 2019, or those whose contracts were frozen as of 12/3/20 as a result of the measures.
I. REDUCTIONS, EXEMPTIONS, GENERAL SAFETY
• RENT REDUCTIONS to Art workers who are entitled to the stipend.
• Protection of primary property, subordination without exception in accordance to article 72 of N.4605/2019, the way it had been expanded in the latest Legislative Content Act in article 1).
• Ban the interruption of supply due to debt to services i.e. to water suppliers, suppliers of electricity, and phone and internet communications suppliers - 50% deduction of all basic consumer accounts until September (proportionally applying the Legislative Content Act in the latest article on the DIGEA provider).
II. EXCEPTIONS FROM THE MEASURES
• Retired persons from the Arts communities.
• SPECIFIC SOLICITATIONS for those in receipt of low retirement pensions. Economic relief grant up to 533 euros a month.
• Employers with two or more employees are entitled to the support fund for only one of the two employees.
• Employees that have contracts with audiovisual productions i.e. television film shootings, movie film productions, considering they are to be manifested within the time period of the social-distancing measures. There should be a possibility to include the measures through to the end of a scheduled shooting up until the restrictions are lifted.
B) COMPENSATE WORKERS IN THE ARTS IN STATE OR REPRESENTATIVE BODIES i.e. Athens & Epidaurus Festival, Municipal Festivals throughout Greece and co-financed programs.
Considering these organizations will lose a sizeable percentage of ticket revenue but will at the same time see a large reduction in operating costs, we ask:
• From the total budget estimate of each institution that they provide 60% of the already agreed budget for all productions of the representative production companies. Following this, the production companies are to grant an equal percentage to all artists and contributors who were part of the aforementioned organizations.
• This also applies to personal cases of co-production. The bearer for public budgeting covers more than the estimated full percentage.
• In the case of productions that are to transpire at a later period WITHIN 2020, the remainder of the agreed payment is to be granted.
• All agencies are to commit themselves, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, to announce the occurrence or the fall out of summer events up to the latest date of 30/09/2020.
• If events are to transpire after the 30/09/2020, it is obligatory that the workers get paid afresh.
• The compensation from the State Body is equipoised with a support stipend for Arts Workers that the employee acquires up until the materialization of the production in question. Following the occurrence of said production the employee is to receive a stipend until the end of all social distancing measures.
C) SUPPORT SELF-EMPLOYED WORKERS IN THE ARTS (such as directors, musicians, fine artists, producers, etc.)
• EXEMPTION of the deposit contributing to individual insurance, without losing pension rights.
• REQUEST of a performance fee/tax advancement and a solidarity contribution.
• ATTAINMENT of the aforementioned measures to support employees.
D1) BUSINESS SUPPORT
— INCLUSION OF AΜΚΕ i.e. non-profit organizations, ΚΟΙΝΣΕΠ, ΙΚΕ, ΟΕ, ΕΕ, Personal companies, associations corporations etc. to the 800 euro budget for businesses:
• with the applicable conditions dependent upon the special support of 800 euros in self-employed and private businesses.
• the subsidy is not given in person to the business administrator/owner of any business but to the Value Added Tax Identification number of said company.
TO BETTER ACCOMMODATE EVERYONE:
A documentation of the Register of Supervised Entities from the Ministry of Culture to record all Companies that have not yet been enrolled within the month of May and for one month, on account that the registration process by the services of the Ministry of Culture be executed in a smooth and orderly manner.
• Business Companies with an Artistic Activity Code Number are to be EXEMPT FROM TERMINATING THE STIPEND and should have an ADVANCE IN TAXES.
• 40% rent discount should be included in the measures pertaining to the banning of halting by service providers e.g. water, electricity, internet, etc.
• Suspension of debt collection by the Independent Authority on Public Contributions, and suspension of the settling of debt (in 24 instalments) that has come about as a result of the COVID-19 crisis for as long as this comes to pass.
• Include Arts Companies in the capital loan program of the Development Bank in an analogous program. Note: as soon as there is such a program there also needs to be a health plan concerning the reopening of the Artistic premises.
D2) SPECIFICALLY FOR PREMISES/SPACES HOUSING CULTURAL PRACTICE i.e. theatres, galleries, dance schools, artist studios, etc.
• Heath/aid measures.
• A support plan: liquidity, tax/insurance obligations, energy bills and operating expenses, rent.
E) ARTS SCHOOLS
Instructions from the Ministry of Culture pertaining to the functionality of Arts schools and the performance assessments that are to be carried out for third year Arts students:
• How is cyber education carried out? Are internet courses possible? And, if so, how does one undertake exams through this medium?
• When and how will exams take place?
• How will the pensions of the instructors be secured?
• How will schools and conservatories be supported as businesses given that a fair number of students no longer contribute to paying tuition fees? Is there a plan for this?
F) OPENING OF CULTURAL SPACES - MATERIALISATION OF CULTURAL EVENTS & HAPPENINGS
• A committee is required consisting of members from every Artistic Field who will advise and inform infectious disease specialists about the “peculiarities” of each field. There should be a modelling process of Artistic production; this is not to be done in written or oral form, questions are not to be answered by a committee, but specialists are to attend rehearsals, studios, etc.
• Moreover, it is advised that the committee also includes persons from production associations and cultural events, and competent bodies/audience. Reception simulation testing the flow of the audience so that the protocol implemented is the safest possible.
• Create a plan certifying how security will be manifested during the occurrence of events.
• Grant enough time for Workers in Arts and Culture to learn of, and understand the newfound protocols.
G) SUBSIDIZED PRODUCTIONS FOR THE YEAR 2020-2021
Considering the uncertainty and the plethora of productions that have been halted it is very likely that new productions are to take place following the Christmas season and possibly much later.
• deadline is required for the reformation of the calendar period of 2020-2021.
• Agreement with the Ministry of Finance that the productions of 2020-2021 are not to be taxed.
SPECIFICALLY concerning the subsidized productions that were interrupted on 12/03/2020 (seasonal Artistic period 2019-2020)
•.Provide a special fund package for any possible changes that are to occur in Artistic practices (i.e. due to an overlap in productions, or because of an inability to participate in a production because of a newfound date), and because of the economic encumbrance as a result of the added protocols (i.e. room disinfection, added cleaning and sanitary facilities, possible obligation to rent out larger spaces).
H) SPECIFIC CLAUSE
For all Artistic productions, the responsibility for the cancellation of any production due to cases of SARS, COV2, COVID-19, etc. also impacts and falls upon the Ministry of Culture.
ASSEMBLY GROUP FOR: ORGANISATION – COORDINATION – INITIATIVE
Kotidis Ioannis Ioko
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